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Discovery Lesson: The Energy Story

Teacher Enrichment Resource Packet for

Think it.
Try it.
Discovery Lesson
whats inside
Welcome 1
Background Information 1-3
Vocabulary 4
Classroom Activities 5-7
Supplemental Resources 7-8
Science Standards 8
The Energy Story
February 21, 2009 - May 24, 2009
Energy is all around us -- even within us. Often it's invisible.
What is this weird force that can't be created or destroyed?
Investigate the forms of energy and how we use them to help
us get things done.
Learning Objectives:
Understand that energy is the ability to do work
Discover that energy can change forms, and be stored or
moved, but cannot be created or destroyed
Identify many resources from which energy comes, and be
able to differentiate between those that are renewable and
Recognize the importance of conserving energy, and be
familiar with clean and effcient energy choices

Sponsored by:
Discovery Lesson: The Energy Story
2009 Explorit Science Center Davis, California 530.756.0191
Teacher Enrichment Resource Packet for
Our Mission:
We engage people in
science experiences that
touch all our lives.
Thank you for choosing Explorit Science Centers Discovery Lesson program to
supplement your ongoing science curriculum. You might use the program to kick
off a new unit, wrap up a nearly completed unit, or purely to excite and interest
your students in the wonderful world of science. Whichever way you incorporate
it, advance preparation and follow-up with your students are critical to achieving
the greatest educational beneft from this unique science experience.
Explorit provides two resources to help prepare you and your students for the
Discovery Lesson. First, simple logistics of the program are detailed in the
confrmation letter. Second, this Teacher Enrichment Resource Packet outlines
appropriate science content and processes to help you:
successfully prepare your students prior to visiting Explorit;
participate fully in the Discovery Lesson yourself; and
follow-up with your students back in the classroom.
We use energy to power our buildings, electronics, transportation systems, and
even our own bodies. Energy is the ability to do work, which happens when things
are moving. Every time we feel heat, see light, hear sound, or make something
change or move, energy is responsible. Energy makes possible everything that
Energy can take on many different forms that scientists group into categories:
form of energy examples of form
mechanical water rushing through a dam
radiant sunlight
sound your voice, which causes air molecules to vibrate
chemical stored in batteries, fossil fuels, and food we eat
thermal or heat hot steam that escapes from a boiling pot
electrical static that makes your hair stand on end on a dry day
nuclear used in some power plants and weapons
There is a fnite amount of energy in the universe, meaning we can neither add to
nor take away from the universes energy supply. Thus, energy cannot be created
or destroyed. It may seem that we are creating the electrical power that travels
through transformers and over power lines to our homes. Yet, this electrical energy
began as another form of energy, such as chemical energy in coal, or mechanical
energy, such as the falling water in a hydropowered dam. Electrical power can then
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Discovery Lesson: The Energy Story
2009 Explorit Science Center Davis, California 530.756.0191
Teacher Enrichment Resource Packet for
page 2
Energy Fact:
Many televisions continue to
draw power even if they are
turned off. Unplug TVs that
you do not use frequently.
be transformed into radiant energy in a light bulb, some of whose energy is lost as
heat, or thermal, energy. Although it cannot be created or destroyed, energy can be
stored for later, moved somewhere else, or changed into a different form.
All forms of energy can be either potential (stored) energy, or kinetic (moving)
energy. Potential energy is ready to do work, whereas kinetic energy is actually doing
work. Potential energy is converted into kinetic energy during the process of work
being done. This conversion from potential energy to kinetic energy can occur in
a variety of ways, depending on the form of energy we are using. For example, it
could happen as an object falls from a height, bonds between atoms are broken, or a
compressed spring expands.
Energy comes from many places. Commonly used energy resources include:
source of
energy description of source

fossil fuels
coal, oil (petroleum), natural gas, and propane
biomass plant material that is burned for its energy
comes from the heat within the earth
hydropower generated by moving water
wind wind turns rotating machines, called turbines, to change
the winds kinetic energy into electrical energy
produced when the nuclei (center) of atoms split apart
(fssion) or fuse together (fusion)
solar energy radiant energy of the Sun, often turned into electrical
energy with the help of solar cells
We do not have an unlimited supply of all energy resources. Some are
renewable, and others are nonrenewable. Renewable energy sources can be
quickly replenished. Solar, wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric energy are
renewable. Nonrenewable energy sources can be depleted; they can eventually run
out. Fossil fuels, which can take millions of years to form, are a nonrenewable energy
source. Nuclear energy is also nonrenewable. In the United States, we get most of our
energy from nonrenewable sources, so it is essential to conserve them and fnd ways
to use more renewable sources.
Energy Fact:
Hydropower is the leading
renewable power source
used by electric utilities.
Discovery Lesson: The Energy Story
2009 Explorit Science Center Davis, California 530.756.0191
Teacher Enrichment Resource Packet for
page 3
Even though it is not possible to destroy energy, it is possible to waste it. We
waste energy when transforming it into other forms of energy that cannot be easily
re-harvested, and into byproducts that harm the environment. Cars are a good
example of this. When they burn gasoline, chemical energy from gas is transformed
into mechanical energy of the engine, which moves the car forward. However, some
energy during this transformation escapes as heat from beneath the hood of the
car, as noise, and as waste gases from the tailpipe that pollute our air. This means
traditional cars might not be the most effcient form of transportation.

Aside from effciency, we might also ask ourselves if the ways we use energy are
renewable and clean. In comparison to gasoline used by a traditional car, a hybrid
gas-electric car could be a better alternative. The hybrid could go farther on less
gas, and waste less energy. Although hybrid cars are cleaner and more effcient than
traditional cars, they still use an electric motor and battery. Another alternative is
solar powered cars. They are dramatically cleaner, and rely on a renewable, easy-
to-use energy source. A car powered by solar panels converts sunlight directly into
electricity to make the car go.
As we have seen, some of our energy choices pollute air, water, and land, while
others keep our environment clean. Burning resources for their energy, such as
fossil fuels and biomass, pollutes the air. Students can choose to pollute less on their
way to school by walking, biking, carpooling, or taking the bus -- instead of driving.
Since we have to breathe the Earths air, drink its water, and eat its food, choosing
clean energy improves life for everyone.

Even clean and renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power, can have
environmental repercussions. A huge feld of windmills can limit activities of
birds. Installing large solar panels in a desert can harm the fragile desert ecosystem.
We can pay attention to issues like these, and help our neighbors and leaders make
wise decisions about energy sources we use.
Energy Fact:
The total solar energy
reaching the Earth in one
hour is more than our
yearly global energy
Energy Facts:
Automobile traffc in the
United States costs $100
billion each year in wasted
fuel, lost productivity, and
health costs.
Discovery Lesson: The Energy Story
2009 Explorit Science Center Davis, California 530.756.0191
Teacher Enrichment Resource Packet for
Here is a list of words that may be used during The Energy Story Discovery
Lesson. Specifcs vary according to students grade level and prior knowledge.
biomass - things that are alive, or were alive a short time ago, such as plant
material (like wood), or animal waste. Can be used to make biogas for powering
chemical energy - stored energy that can be released through chemical reaction,
found in things like food and batteries
clean energy - energy that does not pollute the environment
conserve - to use carefully, to avoid waste
effciency - output compared to input. If a device does as much work for us as
energy we put into it, then it is perfectly effcient because it is not wasting any
electrical energy - energy produced by movement of charged particles, such as
electrical currents and static electricity
energy - the ability to do work
fossil fuels - materials that are extracted from the earth, such as coal, oil, or
natural gas, that are deposited and created over millions of years. We use chemical
energy from these fuels for a variety of purposes.
geothermal energy - heat energy from inside the earth
hydropower - energy generated by moving water
kinetic energy - energy of motion. Water fowing over a dam is kinetic energy.
mechanical energy - energy of moving parts pushing or pulling
methane - a gas that is the main ingredient of both natural gas and biogas
nonrenewable - a resource that can be depleted, such as fossil fuels
nuclear energy - energy produced by splitting or joining the centers of small
particles called atoms
pollution - contamination of the natural environment with harmful substances as a
consequence of human activities; a byproduct of many energy sources
potential energy - stored energy, such as the still water sitting behind a dam,
ready to fall.
radiant energy - the category of energy that includes solar and light energy
renewable - a resource that cannot be depleted, such as solar and wind energy
solar energy - energy from the suns rays. Solar panels can turn solar energy into
sound energy - the vibrations of molecules as sound waves travel
sustainable - practices that can be continued indefnitely, with minimal harm to
the natural environment, such as the use of renewable resources
thermal energy - energy from heat
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Discovery Lesson: The Energy Story
2009 Explorit Science Center Davis, California 530.756.0191
Teacher Enrichment Resource Packet for
Activity #1: Energy Change
Objective: To see the effect that height has on the energy of a moving object
You will need: book, pencil, ruler with a center groove, paper cup, scissors, marble
1. Cut a 1-inch square section out from the top of the paper cup, so that it looks
like an open doorway when the cup is placed upside-down on a table
2. Place the cup over one end of the ruler, so the ruler touches the back side of
the cup.
3. Raise the opposite end of the ruler and put a pencil under it, so the ruler can
rest on the pencil.
4. Place the marble in the center groove of the ruler at the rulers highest end
5. Release the marble and observe the cup
6. Raise the end of the ruler and rest it on the edge of a thick book instead of the
pencil. Put the cup back in its spot.
7. Place and release the marble again, and observe the cup. Try with other
heights, and notice how far the cup moves each time.
8. What happens? The cup moves when the marble strikes it, and goes farther
the higher the marble starts.
9. Why does it happen? The higher the marble sits above the ground waiting
to roll, the more potential (stored) energy it has. As it rolls down the incline,
potential energy changes into kinetic (moving) energy. More potential energy
means more kinetic energy, which causes the marble to strike the cup with
more force.
This activity adapted from: Physics for Every Kid, by Janice VanCleave, 1991
Activity #2: Close Encounter
Objective: To experience the attracting and repelling forces between objects due to
their electrical charges.
You will need: 2 round balloons, about 9 inches, masking tape, 6 feet of string,
marking pen, and clean, dry, oil-free hair
1. Infate both balloons and tie their ends. Use the pen to label one balloon A
and the other B.
2. Cut the string in half and attach one piece to the end of each balloon
3. Tape the free ends of the strings to the top of a door frame so that the bal-
loons hang down in the open space where the door would be. They should
hang about 8 inches apart from each other.
4. Bring a student up to the hanging balloons. Stroke balloon A on her hair
about 10 times, and gently release it. What happens? (The balloons attract
each other, and look stuck together.)
5. Bring another student up to the balloons. Have one student rub balloon A on
their hair again about 10 times, while the other student does the same with
balloon B. What happens this time? (The balloons repel each other and drift
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Classroom Activities
Discovery Lesson: The Energy Story
2009 Explorit Science Center Davis, California 530.756.0191
Teacher Enrichment Resource Packet for
6. Why does this happen? All things are made of atoms, which have nega-
tively charged electrons spinning around a positive nucleus. When electrons
are rubbed off hair atoms onto a balloon, the balloon becomes negatively
charged. First only one balloon is negative, so the two are opposites, and thus
attract. The second time, both balloons are negative, so as like charges, they
This activity adapted from: Physics for Every Kid, by Janice VanCleave, 1991.
Activity #3: Biomass Bonanza!
Objective: To illustrate the transfer and transformation of energy.
You will need: materials to build a compost bin, compostable items, earthworms
1. Build a large bin. Make it as deep as possibleat least three feet deep and
three feet wide. You can construct it out of wood, chickenwire, or whatever
materials are readily available. A lid is optional, it may trap heat and speed
composting. You can also use a large (10 gallon) plastic bin with holes.
2. Place food and clean garden waste in the bin, alternating with layers of
soil. Have your students place in the bin the remains of fruits, vegetables,
and bread.
3. Add earthworms to your pile. Worms make compost decompose twice as
4. If your pile becomes very damp, add newspaper strips to absorb the
5. Using a shovel, turn layers of compost every day to aerate the pile.
6. Have students examine the compost pile, and record their observations.
When did they begin to note changes in the pile? What material decomposes
fastest? Is anything in the pile not decomposing? How does the pile smell?
7. The pile should become warm. Students can feel this warmth by wearing
arm-length plastic gloves and reaching into the bin. Or, you can insert a
long thermometer into the pile. In healthy compost, temperatures may reach
above100 F.
8. Ask students to determine when the pile is done. Some clues: its temperature
falls below 100 F., its volume reduces 50 to 75 percent, it smells earthy, and
its smooth or crumbly.
9. Have students illustrate the stages of the compost and their own experiments
with energy, including growing plants with the compost.
10. Talk with students about the transfer and transformation of energy
throughout this process of decay and growth. Have students trace their food
waste to its origin (seed), and diagram the energy that went into the food,
the chemical and mechanical energy they gained from eating the food, the
thermal energy that the food waste generates in the pile, and, fnally, how
the chemical energy of the compost combines with solar energy to allow new
seeds to germinate.
Thy this resource for help with your composting project:
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Classroom Activities
Discovery Lesson: The Energy Story
2009 Explorit Science Center Davis, California 530.756.0191
Teacher Enrichment Resource Packet for
Activity #4: A Little Drip Means A Big Energy Waste
Objective: To get students thinking about energy conservation and their own
energy use. One drop of water is tiny, but a leaky faucet can add up to thousands
of gallons of wasted water per year! If hot water is dripping down the drain, then
clean water and energy used to heat it are both wasted.
You will need: measuring cup, faucet, clock, pencil, paper
1. If you have a leaky faucet, use it. Otherwise, adjust your sink faucet to
produce a steady drip...drip...drip. Place the measuring cup underneath the
dripping faucet, and collect 15 min worth of drip. You might, for example,
collect 4 oz of water in 15 min. Now you can calculate how much energy
was wasted, using your own numbers (we are using 4oz).
2. Multiply the number of ounces of water by 4 this gives you the number of
ounces per hour leaking through the faucet. 4oz X 4 = 16 oz per hour
3. Multiply the answer from step 1 by 24 this gives the number of oz per
day leaking through the faucet. 16 oz per hr X 24 = 384 oz per day
4. Multiply the answer from Step 2 by 356 this gives the number of ounces
per year leaking through the faucet. 384 oz per day X 365 = 140,160 oz per
5. Divide the answer from Step 3 by 128 this gives the number of gallons
per year leaking through the faucet. 140,160 oz per yr / 128 = 1095 gal per
6. Thats a lot of water, and it took a lot of energy to make it hot! If it was
heated by a gas water heater, you can calculate how many cubic feet of gas
were used. Multiply the answer from Step 4 by 1.2. 1095 X 1.2 = 1,314
cubic feet of gas per yr
This activity adapted from: Energy Conservation Experiments You Can Do, from
the Thomas Alva Edison Foundation, 1991.
Berger, Melvin. Switch On, Switch Off. HarperTrophy, 2001. An easy-to-
understand, informative, and accurate science concept book (grades K-3).
Brubaker Bradley, Kimberly. Energy Makes Things Happen. HarperTrophy, 2002.
Uses familiar examples and has a clear focus to introduce basic scientifc concepts
(grades 1-3).
Hawkes, Nigel. New Energy Sources (Saving Our World). Copper Beech Books,
2000. Discusses energy technology and engineering.
White, Larry. Energy: Simple Experiments for Young Scientists. Millbrook Paper
Trade, 1996. This series of books asks intriguing questions and provides clear,
concise answers. Many simple projects using easy to fnd materials (grades 3-6).
Discovery Lesson: The Energy Story
2009 Explorit Science Center Davis, California 530.756.0191
Teacher Enrichment Resource Packet for
page 7
Javna, John. 25 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save Energy. The Earthworks Press.
1992. Overview of energy & the environment; 25 different kid power ideas for
saving energy.
Teacher Advisory Board of The NEED Project, 2007. Elementary Energy Infobook.
Fact sheets about different kinds of energy and energy sources we use (grades 1-6).
Web Sites
Energy Information Administration Kids Page
For kids. Navigate to energy facts, games, activities (science fair projects included),
and energy vocab.
National Energy Education Development (NEED) Web Site
Access information about NEEDs energy curriculum and materials.
Plans for solar cookers
Construction plans for various types of solar cookers. Build your own!
Re-Energy: Renewable Energy Education
All about renewable sources of energy for teachers and students. For lesson plans,
go to Teacher Materials Lessons and Activities.
Kids Site from US Department of Energy
Fun graphics and games that teach kids about energy effciency and conservation.
Physical Science (2nd: 1abcdefg; 3rd:1abcdh & 2abd; 4th:1aeg)
Life Science (1st:2b; 4th:2a; 5th:2g; 6th:5a)
Earth Science (K:3c; 1st:3c: 2nd:3e; 3rd:4de; 5th:4a; 6th:3abcd & 4abd &
Investigation and Experimentation (K:4abcde; 2nd:4a; 4th:6cdf; 5th:6bfh; 6th:
K-4: A, B, D, E, F
Discovery Lesson: The Energy Story
2009 Explorit Science Center Davis, California 530.756.0191
Teacher Enrichment Resource Packet for
Location: 2801 2nd St., Davis
Phone: 530.756.0191
Fax: 530.756.1227
Reservations required.
For information please call
Think it.
Try it.
Explorit Programs for Schools and Groups
At Explorits Site
Discovery Lessons & Labs Visit one or more of the Changing Exhibitions throughout the year
Nature Safaris & Labs Visit Explorit's outdoor spaces at Mace Park Branch
Explorit in Your Classroom
Classroom Adventures Explorit educators visit your classroom for hour-long presentations
Young Scientist Series Science investigations through multiple visits
For the Whole School
Health in Your World Learn about keeping your body and the world healthy and safe
Science in Your World The ultimate family science night
Science Assembly A multimedia presentation for the whole school